There's No Quarterback Controversy, But LSU Football Now Has Two Guys It Can Feel Comfortable Playing

Orgeron says Brennan is LSU’s starter after strong debut from TJ Finley
Publish date:

Ed Orgeron knew the question was coming. It was the talk of social media throughout the game and on the ESPN broadcast as freshman TJ Finley continued to light up the South Carolina defense.

Would the stellar debut performance from the Ponchatoula native cause a "quarterback controversy" in Baton Rouge? Not according to Orgeron, who said after Saturday night's win that Myles Brennan is the LSU starting quarterback.

"Everybody's just yearning for it, I can feel it but there ain't gonna be a controversy on our part," Orgeron said. "Myles is our starting quarterback and TJ has done a great job. I know this, if Myles ain't doing well, I can put in TJ and feel good about it."

Finley looked the part of a seasoned vet in his debut for the purple and gold, tossing for 265 yards and three total touchdowns. He looked calm and collected, making the right reads all night and displaying a mobility that wasn’t there when he walked on campus as a 265-pound true freshman in January. He proved that LSU could have a future star on its hands at the position. 

"I've just focused every week like I was gonna be the starter," Finley said. "I feel like we have our swagger back, I feel like last year the guys played together, the offense and defense fueled each other. Like coach O says, big plays fuel emotion. The last three games, I feel like the team was separated but I felt like we came together tonight. As long as we stay together, we'll have success."

But Finley's performance also proved that recency bias is very real. 

Brennan showed improvement in each of the Tigers' first three games of the season, tossing for 1,112 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 60% of his passes. It was without a doubt the most productive beginning by an LSU quarterback making his first three career starts. 

Of course it wasn't all perfect as LSU did go 0-for-10 against Missouri on third down while Finley was able to orchestrate a 7-of-9 effort against the Gamecocks. Instead of focusing on who should or shouldn't be the starter moving forward, there's a more important point to make.

If anything, LSU is in a position that most programs around the country would kill to be in. It has two options at the most important position in football it can feel comfortable playing in an SEC environment. 

Throughout the week, Brennan, offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and fellow freshman Max Johnson were tremendous crutches for Finley as the the freshman prepared for his first collegiate start. Orgeron said that Ensminger worked tireless hours devising a gameplan that fit Finley and Johnson, with the expectation that both would play.

But Finley's hot start made it more and more likely as the game went on that Johnson wouldn't get his chance this week.

"All quarterbacks in the quarterback room were very prepared," Finley said. "Our coaches did a great job preparing us for this moment. Competing with Myles in practice to make him better, he made me better. Every quarterback in the quarterback room has the ability to go in and win the game. Us as a group supported each other so it was a group effort."

It's not yet known if Brennan will be healthy for this week's road outing against Auburn. 

He was dressed out on Saturday and was seen doing some light throwing off to the side pregame. There's a very real chance that Brennan's lower body injury could take another week or two to heal, meaning it would be more of a sample size to see Finley in action on the road.

As Orgeron alluded to, if Brennan hits a wall when he returns, he has no problems moving to Finley. But Brennan has proven through a month of the season that he has the talent to be more than a game manager. He's a difference maker that will be given every opportunity to succeed in this offense before such a dramatic shift is made.